Ballard proposes $50M preschool program as part of crime initiative

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Mayor Greg Ballard on Wednesday morning proposed a $50 million, 5-year program to pay for preschool for 4-year-olds from low-income families in Marion County and to buttress ongoing efforts to boost the quality of preschool providers.

Ballard proposed the preschool initiative in a speech about ways to fight Indianapolis’ alarming spike in crime. Speaking at the former City Hall building in downtown Indianapolis, Ballard also proposed adding 280 new police officers by 2018, making changes to the criminal justice system and launching studies to better understand how to help students that drop out of high school.

“There is a shared recognition that education is the key to a positive future for individual students, their families, their neighborhoods, and our city’s social and economic vitality,” stated a report prepared by Ballard’s staff on the preschool program. “However, we have yet to fulfill this promise for our children and city.”

Under Ballard’s plan, the city of Indianapolis would contribute $25 million toward the preschool program via a flexible grant to the United Way of Central Indiana. That money would be matched first by existing federal and state programs, including Gov. Mike Pence’s preschool pilot program that could bring Marion County as much as $3 million.

The rest of the matching funds would come via private fundraising. The program would be expected to benefit about 1,300 preschoolers per year.

Ballard hopes to pay the city’s $5 million per year portion by eliminating the homestead tax credit in Marion County, which his staff estimates would generate $7.5 million in additional annual revenue. The balance of those funds would be among the ways Ballard would pay for additional police officers.

Eliminating the tax credit would affect about 60 percent of Indianapolis homeowners, according to the mayor's office. The average homeowner affected by the proposal would pay another $1.84 per month.

But the City-County Council would have to go along with Ballard’s funding plan—even though the council has rejected the elimination of the homestead tax credit when Ballard proposed it for other spending purposes each of the past two years.

That credit, which is different from the much larger homestead deduction, is an income tax-supported subsidy that benefits some homeowners.

To further help pay for 280 additional police officers by 2018, Ballard has proposed increasing the public safety income tax by 0.15 percent. The increase, which also would require council approval, would cost the average Indianapolis household another $5.32 per month.

Taking into account estimated attrition in workforce, the number of IMPD officers would rise from 1,565 this year to 1,677 in 2018.

The Ballard administration distributed a list of statements of support for its preschool program from numerous groups, including the Indianapolis Urban League, Marian University, preschool providers like Day Nursery and St. Mary’s Child Center, and even the libertarian Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

“Violence and crime, if not addressed at the root causes, will hurt not just the individuals involved, but the community as a whole,” said Friedman CEO Robert Enlow.

Studies of highly intensive early education programs have shown that, over the long-term, the kids that participated in them have gone on to enjoy higher rates of employment and earnings, lower rates of crime and less dependence on public services.

However, paying for one year of preschool is not identical to the early education programs that produced those results. And the most rigorous studies of one-year preschool programs have shown short-term benefits that fade out in a few years or no benefits at all.

Ballard’s preschool plan would ask the United Way to create two new grant programs. The first would be a scholarship program for 4-year-olds living in families with incomes equal to or less than $44,123 per year.

That would cover about 8,000 of the 14,000 4-year-olds in Marion County, according to Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.

Those scholarships could be used at preschool providers that have been nationally accredited or which score at levels 3 and 4 by Paths to Quality, a rating service for preschool and childcare providers in Indiana.

However, only 15 percent of early education providers in Indiana meet those thresholds, according to Ballard’s staff.

So United Way will also offer grants to preschool providers to help them boost their quality above the threshold. Separately from the Ballard plan, the United Way has been working in recent years to improve the quality of preschool providers.

The Ballard administration won’t dictate how United Way apportions the money between those two grant programs. However, as an example, the city imagines that $40 million could go toward scholarships and $10 million to grants to preschool providers.

Under that scenario, the Ballard program would pay for 1,300 kids to attend preschool per year. That would cover a substantial portion, but not all of the 3,000 to 6,000 kids the Ballard administration estimates are not in high-quality preschool programs.


  • ARe the spousal murders and many more suicides the results of unequal court orders taking children?
    The murders may be the result of divorce court oppression. The equal treatment would prevent these murders. Look at Indianapolis in 1960. (Before sole custody to females.) The white jail rate was greater than minorities. IPS schools won state championships. What has changed it giving one parent injustice (court) dominance to do anything they want and punish fathers. But aside, a person is no better than the person they bear children with. Equal custody and support needs to be the standard.
  • It's not single moms that are the problem
    It cracks me up that people say single moms are the problem. Young uneducated single people make poor choices as to people who choose to have an alcohol and or drug abuse problem. Males and/or husbands are not the magic wand and are definitely not the answer, many times they are the problem, a BIG one. Have you paid attention to all the women in the media in the PAST week that have been murdered by their husbands/significant others? It's a general lack of morals and taking RESPONSIBILITY for ones actions that are the causes of crime. I get so tired of the "proper people" and the "do gooders" that ultimately think they can judge people.
    • Bandages and tourniquets
      This proposal does not address the issue. Until children stop having children, women are not raising children alone, nothing will help. This is The Problem. It's about morals, principals, values.
      • Funding
        I have a novel idea, how about taking back some of the TIF money that has been given out as corporate welfare, or have the CIB pay for both the new police and new educational programs. Give away Gregg needs to stop subsidizing the rich by taking from the poor. The policy of raising a regressive tax is unheard of in this hard economic times. Furthermore, the city received 400 million for the water company, millions from the parking meter deal and countless amounts of money we do not even know about.
      • Not the answer
        If the city has a way to generate $50 million then they should spend part of it to hire a public safety firm for assitance. Ballard obviously has no clue and needs help. From an education standpoint, develop a crime prevention program to roll out into the middle schools and high schools to educate that age range and the parents. It is not 4 year olds that are terrorizing the city.
      • What benefit?
        So by increasing local income taxes by 9% and eliminating the homestead credit, we get 112 net new IMPD officers (the other 168 are replacements hence already in the budget) and a privately-contracted pre-school 'program' already proven not to work elsewhere that will cover less than 25% of the children. And taxpayers get to pay for these private contractors to improve their programs upfront. Perhaps we'll drive down crime rates among 4 year-olds? But a 7% increase in IMPD officers won't have much impact on the community of 15-30 year-olds who commit most of our serious crimes.
      • Are The Lights On?
        What a huge waste of money based on false assertions! If you want to educate children, call it "Education". Pre-School does not teach the skills needed for future employment. The mayor and his team need to get a different set of eyes and ears on the ground. Jobs are the answer, and unless you are proposing that all Black Men living in Indianapolis need to relocate to China, India, Vietnam, South America, Mexico, or Western Europe, if they want a job, someone needs to know that young Black Men see no future without a job. I think the mayor is being grossly mislead, and he needs to find folks with real answers or his problems are only going to get worse.
      • NO!
        How is preschool going to help these young Black men?Preschoolers are not robbing and killing people. Create jobs and programs to help 18 to 25 year old men, particularly Black men. That is the fix. Preschool?!?! That won't help the crime problem at all. Put 50 million into job programs for Black men in Indy.
      • Really?
        Might want to check that $1.84 per month for eliminating the homestead tax credit. Seems way way way way low.
      • Incorrect Math
        An increase in the local option tax from 1.62% to 1.77% is not a .15% increase. It is a 9.25% increase.
      • Too many bad parents
        Putting the preschoolers' parents in parenting training would do more good, IF they would pay any attention to it. Requiring a parenting license would be much better, but of course that's entirely politically incorrect.
      • Nah
        I'd rather pay more in taxes for sidewalks
      • A Crime initiative, Really?
        Let me get this straight. If affordable preschool doesn't have political wings to fly, we will tag it as a crime initiative and it will. So do we now call enrollment-a sentence, attendance-serving your time, graduation-parole, teachers-guards, the principal-the warden, the school room-a cell, a school-a cell block? and will we take this new language to the suburbs as well?
      • Start in the home
        All the education in the world won't help an unhealthy situation at home. How about parenting classes, assessing mental health, and dependency issues. Dupree, to blame everything on single parenting is ridiculous. We need to perform as parents and we need support those who need the help. If people continue to have babies, and not participate in their rearing, they need to be placed with someone who will. All assistance is lost if participation doesn't exist.
      • Crime is related to single parent households....perhaps equal parenting time and equal support is an answer
        Those involved in the crimes have more than any other factor been victims of Indiana's child custody injustices. The children develop legitimate hate of government and society that declares one of their parents a visitor and deadbeat. Non-custodial parents do not abandon their children: they are driven away from their children in a system that takes great pride in jailing poor fathers just as they took great pride in arresting those who would not sit in the back of the bus or women who tried to vote (or limit love/marriage by gender). While many claim they deserve sole say in the children's upbringing, good argument could be made that a person is really no better than the person they select for bearing children. Clear facts show that children who have had a parent driven away are the most likely to be involved in crimes. I understand that the issue of equal time and equal support is extremely unpopular with the Indiana bar, county judges, and those who wish for the low pay, unstable and uneducated work force. I would say as a whole, these are the same groups who supported segregation and opposed women's rights to vote. To reduce crime, we need to give parents equal parenting time and equal child support. Equal treatment for parents....only those who make money from injustice are against equal.
      • No one sees the elephant in the room?
        Not any mention at all about Mayor Ballard's plan to mortgage the entire Indianapolis Criminal Justice system to his robber baron friends for $500+ million at a unsuitable GM site through foreign shell companies.
      • Too Bad
        Too bad Joe Hogsett didn't announce his resignation as U.S. Attorney 18 months ago. We'd have this program up and running by now.
      • Excellent steps
        I love that this plan provides not only preschool, but quality preschool/early education that helps children over the long term and addresses the need for more schools in the area to improve their services to the levels needed. I will gladly pay $7.16 per month to provide high-quality preschool for young people and hire 280 more police offers. This plan sounds like a wonderful step in the right direction.
      • Ballard blazes our assets again
        I don't get. Peterson was run out of office over a 1% local tax increase. Ballard chastised him for it. Since then, Ballard sold are water - rates have gone up, sold our parking - meter costs and tickets have gone up, and now he wants to raise taxes AND eliminate the homestead exemption. Ballard, ask your cronies at ACS and Citizens to chip in the amounts necessary from their undisclosed profits. The robber barons have returned and someone needs speak softly and carry a big stick.
      • economic and cultural issue
        This is an economic and cultural issue, the only way to change it is to have jobs in the Inner city, and change the culture which has its foundations in multi-generations. Every major city has this and it is getting worse instead of better. Cities need to realize that no all work is done in the office buildings in the city center, the people outside the center need opportunity, jobs, education, infrastructure, not a 25000 seat outdoor amphitheater, but manufacturing companies, industry, etc. near downtown. Invest the 50 million in incentives for companies to locate downtown
      • We Keep Paying
        I certainly don't have the answer to the challenge with angry urban youth, so I won't throw stones at his suggestion. It is disappointing and depressing, however, that so many of people that will be required to pay another "small" tax to help fund the program for troubled youth, will also lose the benefit of their Homestead Deduction. It appears that the majority of these young people have only one parent who, many times, don't care if they go to school even when it's required. Seems the problem is uneducated, irresponsible adults, many of whom are drug or alcohol riddled and can't take care of themselves, let alone the children they are having, and imposing on society. Sad situation....
      • how can preschools fix the problem
        I don't get how this works or the logic behind it. Pre-schools relating to crime? Perhaps if there were the equivalent of public employment of all the youth wandering the streets in Indy at all hours, there would not be a crime problem. Curfews, preventing loitering, targeting crime and taking it off the streets.
      • Not going to work
        Making 4 year olds go to "baby sitting school", and that's what it amounts to won't make up for the lack of good sense in the homes of these children. All behavior, good and bad, starts in the home with the parents. And eliminating the homestead credit is a very bad idea because it makes some homes so affordable. Take that away and you will see people losing their homes or not buying in the first place and making the housing market even worse. My property taxes have dropped considerably because of the homestead credit. I've got another idea, why not eliminate the 65 or older discount on property taxes too. Let's eliminate everything that makes home ownership affordable. Yes, lets do it!!!!
      • Social
        Until his nibs (the mayor) addresses the myriad of social problems that plague the city, crime will continue to rise
      • This is disturbing
        "And the most rigorous studies of one-year preschool programs have shown short-term benefits that fade out in a few years or no benefits at all." So we are going down a path that seems to have proven not to work very well. Right intention, wrong approach?

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